Radio silence on the blog for the last week or two, but not for lack of activity. Last Thursday, P.J. wrapped up a chapter in his [our] life that began back in 2005 when we relocated to State College. That fall, he began a graduate program at Penn State.
No one is surprised to hear that grad school is an intense commitment and requires enormous sacrifice and discipline from a student. But it also requires a certain level of sacrifice from said student’s partner. The early years in the program, though they required plenty of reading, writing and teaching on his part, were actually quite enjoyable. We were in our mid-twenties and, aside from my own career and his studies, we had pretty much zero commitments and felt free to continue the carefree lifestyle we enjoyed in our undergrad days. With better beer, of course. We had fun, drank to our hearts’ content while establishing some great and lasting friendships.
And then comps happened. Comprehensive exams. If I had to choose between taking comps and another drug-free childbirth, I’d totally choose the childbirth. Unless it was a three day labor on a total of about six hours of sleep. Then, well, they’d be pretty damn similar.
Once that milestone was out of the way, Mr. ABD got down to business with his research. And by research, I mean travel. It started off small. A five week trip to Nova Scotia for a language course. The following year brought a three month trip to the English countryside, one week of which I was able to share with him. The year after that, seven months split between London and a seaport on the western coast of France. My awesome holiday break at Penn State allowed me to spend three weeks with him for the last trip, but wow, was that a long time to be alone.
When P.J. returned from his last trip, I was beyond relieved and ecstatic. For the next couple of years, we had a pretty good balance between work and play. Around the time we began to think about starting a family, he also had to start cranking out his dissertation. I can’t speak for him, but I’d wager a bet that our struggle to conceive was quite a distraction. When we finally made that babe, he had to balance his writing with being the supportive partner of an uncomfortable wife. I’m happy to report that I think the diss may have drawn the short straw because he certainly provided me all the support I could have hoped for. And what comes next? Haha, dissertation, meet baby. Beautiful, awesome time-suck of a baby.
Each leg of this journey presented its own unique challenges. These last six months or so? As P.J. once so eloquently put it, he’s been a dissertation hermit holed up in the basement. Most evenings, most weekends, it was me and Rubz doing our thing with daddy in the basement doing his. Until last Thursday. Last Thursday was the end of an era. P.J. became Dr. P.J. and I couldn’t be more proud. It’s an incredible feeling to witness your family’s collective sacrifices culminate in a victory.
There is still work for P.J. to do before graduation, but for the first time in a long time, I feel like we can spend time together without the feeling that something critical isn’t getting done. To be clear, there are plenty of things still not getting done. I could probably knit a sweater with the amount of cat hair that is currently in the carpet. But who cares? I’m married to a doctor.